A Passage to India

A Passage to India, a novel written by E. M. Forester, is an ironic story about the divergent cultures in British, India. In this novel two women, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Quested, venture to Chandrapore, a city located in British, India, to meet Ronny Heaslop. Heaslop is the son of Mrs. Moore and a potential husband for Mrs. Quested. They encounter native Indians and, contrary to the practice of other British living in India, they want to learn more about the Indian culture. One man they meet is Dr. Aziz, a short Indian native of Chandrapore. Quested finds herself in a precarious situation when she believes that Dr. Aziz sexually assaults her, but later realizes that she was wrong. Because of this situation Dr. Aziz takes on three distinct attitude changes. At the beginning of the novel he resents the English, later develops an admiration for them and finally he again develops ill feelings and hatred toward the English.
In the genesis of the novel Dr. Aziz truly resents the British Raja in India. He feels that they can be conniving, malicious and deceptive. Dr. Aziz, along with his friends, meticulously discusses these details over dinner at Hammidulah’s house. During this conversation Dr. Aziz states his estimation of how the British have become malicious stating, “I give any Englishman two years And I give any English woman six months.” They also conferred on the likelihood of the British accepting bribes and mistreating their positions. Dr. Aziz’s views about the British were not unfounded; he and his friends had various unfortunate experiences with the British. His boss, Major Callander, treated Dr. Aziz very shoddily calling him for appointments and then leaving before Dr. Aziz’s arrival. One night after a similar occurrence, the Magistrate’s wife even took his Tonga so that Dr. Aziz had no way home. Dr. Aziz’s friend, Hammidullah, had an appalling experience as well, this with Ronny Heaslop who one day insulted him in court. These incidents cause Dr. Aziz to act so bitter towards the English and he similarly resents them. He believes that upon their arrival in India, the British were idealistic and fair. However, as time passes they become what he called “the typical British.” Upon meeting Mrs. Moore Dr. Aziz yells at her for wearing shoes in a mosque when in actuality she isn’t. It is Mrs. Moore who challenges him to first trust the British again; especially when he finds that she is so easy to talk to and equally as understanding.

Over time, Dr. Aziz began to admire the British, but he did so selectively and carefully.He had heard good things about Mr. Fielding and was pleased to be invited to go to lunch with him, Mrs. Quested and lastly Mrs. Moore, whom he had made a lasting impression upon. Dr. Aziz was greatly moved by Mr. Fielding when he told him to make himself at home, and it was then that Dr. Aziz realized that Mr. Fielding really was kind. Because he admired Mr. Fielding, Dr. Aziz risked ridicule by giving him his collar stud off of his own shirt. During lunch, Dr. Aziz found that he was able to talk freely and openly to the British, like he had never been able to before. Dr. Aziz and Mr. Fielding eventually developed a trusting friendship. Mr. Fielding even came to see him at his house when he was sick; this was very uncustomary for the British to do. In turn Dr. Aziz revealed his trust in Mr. Fielding by showing him a picture of his wife, whom he only showed to his dear friends. Dr. Aziz said, “All men are my brothers, and as soon as one behaves as such he may see my wife.” At one point during the conversation over lunch Dr. Aziz felt so comfortable that he invited Mrs. Quested and Mrs. Moore to accompany him on a tour of the Marabar caves. Once he extended the invitation, he immediately began to realize what a difficult endeavor he had embarked upon and he grew very anxious, both to please and to accommodate. He even solicited help from his friends by asking for food, an elephant, and by borrowing their servants. When Mr. Fielding and Professor Gobdole missed the train to the Marabar Caves, Dr. Aziz grew extremely upset; he was really worried that something would go wrong. His worries were not unfounded, while at the caves Adela wrongfully thought that Dr. Aziz assaulted her.
The trial and accusations placed upon Aziz cause him to bitterly hate the English, once again. This hate is spurred on by the hurt he endures at the British’s expense. Adela tremendously hurts Aziz. He is initially hurt and confused when she randomly leaves his extensively planned trip to the Marabar Caves. Then he was again hurt when Adela accuses him of sexually assaulting her, when he actually believed that they were friends. Not only does this accusation hurt him but it damages his reputation as well. Aziz is also felt betrayed by his friend Fielding. When he is being taken to jail Fielding promises to stay by Aziz’s side but later deserts him in order to talk to an Englishman. After this all Dr. Aziz is so bitter that he wants to sue Adela but Mr. Fielding talks him out of it. Later Dr. Aziz believes that he has been merely protecting Adela because he has plans to marry and run away with her. When Dr. Aziz talks to Fielding about his newfound feelings for the British and Fielding himself begins to show his newfound bitterness. He treats Fielding as though he is his subordinate, at the same time the Indians treat Aziz like royalty. Even after Aziz finds out that Fielding has not run away with Adela he does not forgive him. Eventually Dr. Aziz reconciles with Fielding, but Dr. Aziz’s feelings go in full-circle.

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Dr. Aziz takes on three distinct attitudes changes at the beginning of the novel he resents the English, later develops an admiration for them, and finally he again develops ill feelings and hatred toward them. His feelings are common for the time during British rule in India where the British severely mistreat the Indians, and have no respect for them. Quested and Moore came to India with hopes of learning about the culture, but merely found themselves faced with the question that at one point or another came to all British: Is India a muddle or a mystery?